The Centre is looking at offering full three-year degree programmes online for students at various universities in the country, Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday at an event in New Delhi. The minister said the department is working on regulations for online learning to provide certificate courses for non-technical subjects.

Only universities that have been graded A+ and A++ by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council and have a score of 3.26 or above will be allowed to offer such courses. If an online course is being offered by a university that doesn’t have the requisite rating, it will be given two years to improve its performance, Javadekar said.

“The Central Advisory Board of Education will make efforts to increase the gross educational ratio by opening new universities, using existing infrastructure more productively, and by using open and distance learning and online education,” Javadekar said. “The board commits to take necessary steps to ensure that no deserving student should be denied [the] opportunity to have higher education for lack of means.”

The Centre is planning to double the gross enrollment ratio in higher education, which is calculated for people within the age bracket of 18 to 23. The current gross enrollment ratio is 25.2% in higher education while the government is targeting to achieve nearly 30% over the next five years with the combined efforts of states and the government, Javadekar said. The Centre may also consider running classes in multiple shifts at universities using the existing infrastructure.

At present, there is a concern over the lack of credible evaluation mechanism for students opting for online courses. However, the government plans to conduct entrance exams in the format of GRE/GMAT exam for online courses. The format may be different from multiple-choice questions. The universities offering the course will be allowed to decide on the format for the entrance exam.

Unlike regular correspondence course, students from other states can also opt for online courses at various state universities.